July 15, 2024

Hillbilly Robot is a festival which has played every weekend in February for the past three years, supplanting San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Festival (SFBOT) which ran from 2003 to 2013.  SFBOT, produced by the Northern California Bluegrass Society, held to its acoustic roots in its early years, but as time moved on, Shelby Ash took on more booking responsibility and broadened the repertoire, much to SFBOT’s advantage.  Ash eventually carried SFBOT as volunteer support dwindled and NCBS went back to its roots, withdrew from SFBOT, and opened the door for Shelby Ash Productions to do it all, including change the name since the old one no longer fit.

This year’s Hillbilly Robot line-up is its best as far as diversity of Americana and fresh acts are concerned.  Roosevelt Dime (Brooklyn, NY), which headlines the toe-tapping opening night, features a danceable form of pop bluegrass with a drum kit to power its back beat.  The equally danceable Earles of Newtown (Nevada City, CA) swing with a dixiegrass sound, three horns and an electric guitar.  Drum kits?  Horns?  Electric Guitars?  Yeah, this might not be quite the NCBS’ thing.
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Big Jugs, a bosomgrass outfit, headlines the next night.  (Sexy old time music?  Heavens!)[youtube id=”HIPqDINKd8I” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Belle Monroe and the Brewglass Boys celebrate their 20th anniversary on the second weekend.
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Jon Emery and the Dry County Drinkers bring their honky-tonkin’ sound and a CD release party to the third weekend.  The fourth Friday features the Rumble Strippers representing the rockabilly side of Americana with the Hi-Ball Hotshots, who are the B-Stars in trio mode.  A new incarnation of Mad Mama and the Bona Fide Few headlines the fourth weekend’s closing night.  Some may know Mad Mama Janette Lopez‘s band as a triple-guitar-driven hard rockin’ outfit, but two of those guitars have moved on and the band has retooled for honky-tonk.  This video features them in their former life.  Hicks with Sticks will be at the Plough and Stars on Clememnt Street, SF on February 27th to greet their new life.
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Follow this link to Hillbilly Robot for more information about the festival and its full schedule.